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April 7, 2010 > Women's Hall of Fame

Women's Hall of Fame

By Suzanne Ortt
Photos By Jim Chapman

Alameda County Board of Supervisors, the Alameda County Health Care Foundation, and the Alameda Commission on the Status of Women together established the Women's Hall of Fame, making it permanent in 1993. Its purpose is to honor outstanding women for achievements and contributions to the well being of Alameda County citizens. Inductees reside throughout Alameda County and are of varied professions and backgrounds.

The stage is set; date and time are determined and the location is planned. And now award winners have been selected for the 17th Annual Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame. An Awards Luncheon will be held on Saturday, April 17, 12:30 p.m., at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland.

Local area honorees are:

Suzanne Shenfil for Business and Professions

The Afghan Elderly Association nominated Suzanne Shenfil, who has served as Director of Fremont's Human Service Department for more than thirty years. She has led countless initiatives to develop integrated, culturally appropriate systems of care that serve southern Alameda County's diverse citizenry.

Shenfil championed the establishment of the Family Resource Center (FRC), site of 27 state, county, city and non-profit agencies. FRC has partnered with the Afghan Elderly Association to launch assorted programs.

Previous work experience includes neighborhood organizing in Kansas City, Missouri, and serving as a welfare eligibility worker, a state probation and parole officer in the Midwest.

She is an alumna of the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Social Welfare and received the Alumna of the Year award in 2004.

Shenfil states "It's an honor to be recognized by the Commission on the Status of Women, and have my name added to the list of outstanding and talented women who are part of Alameda County's Women's Hall of Fame."

"It is also an honor to have been nominated by the Afghan Elderly Association, a non-profit serving over 600 Afghan Women, who I have worked in collaboration with for many years. The women served by this organization, are brave, generous and resilient, having suffered much in their lives due to war and turmoil in Afghanistan, but who remain positive and supportive of each other, their families and community."

Vanessa Woodmansee for Sports and Athletics

Woodmansee's cousin, Derek Nasario, was Vanessa's nominator. A native of Kauai, Hawaii, she moved here in 1977 after completing high school. Woodmansee attended Chabot College (Hayward) twice was All Conference Athlete in volleyball and softball. In 2002, she was inducted into the Chabot College Sports Hall of Fame.

For 30 years, Woodmansee has worked part-time for Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (H.A.R.D.). Additionally, she works full-time for Alameda County Department of Child Support Services as a child support caseworker. She has held this position for 10 years. At H.A.R.D., Vanessa coordinates and supervises Women's, Men's, and Co-Ed volleyball leagues, plus the Women's and Men's Softball leagues and tournaments.

Woodmansee supports her community, recognizing the value of sports programs for youth, young adults and adults of all ages. She understands the importance of teamwork, unity and good physical and mental health and has dedicated numerous volunteer hours to assist sports programs in Alameda County schools. She helps keep sports alive in this county and, as an example, recruits and sponsors an ASA Men's Fast-pitch Team.

On a personal level, Woodmansee counts her greatest success as her son Joshua. Recently, he graduated from Cal State University, East Bay with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. She is extremely proud of her stepdaughter, Madisen O'Laughlin, an avid dancer, who excels in golf and swimming. O'Laughlin recently graduated from University of California, Santa Barbara, with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

Woodmansee reflected on the meaning of this award:

"I am truly honored and humbled to have been selected for this recognition. I am very proud to be standing alongside these amazing and inspirational women who are inductees of the 2010 Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame. When I think of my past and present experiences that led me down this path, I must say 'thank you' to everyone who has touched my life: my parents, my family and my friends. You have always supported me by pushing me to live my dreams, but most of all to always remember to try to make a good day better. This accomplishment belongs to all of you."

Other honorees of the 2010 awards are:

Boona Cheema, Executive Director of Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS), for Community Service.

Favianna Rodriguez, silkscreen printmaker and co-founder of East Side Arts Alliance in Oakland, for Culture and Art.

Regina Jackson, executive director of East Oakland Youth Development Center, for Education.

Sandra J. Threlfall, Executive Director of Waterfront Action, Inc., for the Environment.

Gayle Quinn, Director of Health Education at West Oakland Health Center, for Health.

LaDonna Harris, commander with Alameda County Sheriff's Office, for Justice.

Kathy Kuhner, a self-made woman, who has successfully been a therapist, a community organizer, and is currently a real-estate developer, for Non-Traditional Careers.

Lisa A. Pyneer, an engineer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, for Science.

Taylor Marie Lyons, a supporter, counselor and mentor for youth through Boys and Girls Club and a student at Holy Names High School in Oakland, for Youth.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the Commission of the Status of Women cordially invite the public to the Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon. For reservations call (510) 272-6510.

Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame Luncheon
Saturday, April 17
12:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Doors open/Silent auction at 11:45 a.m.
Greek Orthodox Cathedral
4700 Avenue, Oakland
(510) 272-6510

Tickets $75/per person
(Eventbrite will add a credit card convenience fee)

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